Obama-Dullsville '08

I was feeling a little bad that I'd abandoned Washington (and this blog) during the week when Barack Obama was due to announce his running mate, but I shouldn't have worried, since he went and made the dullest of all possible Vice-Presidential picks. Not that Joe Biden is personally boring - he has a major tragedy and a deeply bizarre scandal in his past, and a garrulous barfly persona that makes him by turns entertaining and insufferable, but rarely dull. But as a political figure, he's one of the least interesting veep picks in recent memory. He's white, male, and late in middle age, and he looks like Central Casting's idea of a U.S. Senator. He doesn't embody the future of his party, or hearken back to its glory days: He isn't a rising star or a grizzled veteran of Presidencies past. He's an insider who's never been that far inside (Senator is basically the only job he's ever held), and his Senate record is defined largely by its middlingness - he's neither wildly impressively nor strikingly undistinguished as a legislator, and he blends extremely easily into the Levin-Dodd-Leahy ranks of Dem elder statesmen. He doesn't offer Obama a chance to expand the map - his native state is small, blue and boring, and he hasn't generated any political excitement outside Delaware in twenty years - or co-opt an up-for-grabs constituency (the notion that he's going to be the candidate of Joe Lunchbucket seems mildly implausible, working-class roots or no), or mollify those Democrats who are still wary of their nominee. As far as the politics of the pick goes - and again, his personality is another matter - Biden is unlikely to alienate anyone, and unlikely to attract anyone either.

This doesn't mean he's a bad choice for Obama; indeed, his boringness is no doubt precisely what recommended him. And Poulos is right that there are worse qualities in a veep than being a political party's "best second-rate career politician." (Certainly, having a second-rate career pol as your veep nominee makes way more sense than nominating one for the Presidency itself, as the Dems managed to do the last time around.) But from the point of view of the pundit class, there's very little of interest to be said about a pick that takes the "first, do no harm" principle of running-mate selection nearly all the way to its logical extreme.